Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Voting that matters!

Hey folks! I wanted to solicit some help in getting two of the best specialty shops in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia some proper respect for being pretty awesome. All you have to do is go to http://hamptonroads.com/bestof and create a free account. Once that's taken care of follow the links to the "Best Of" Contest and vooooooote!

First off, Grape & Gourmet. The majority of the beers I review are purchased from there and I would love to see them get some recognition for having an AWESOME selection of beers. The best part about them is that you can buy singles for every beer they carry. That is so choice! Grape & Gourmet is located in VA Beach, so make sure you're in the right city when you're casting your vote for Best Wine/Beer Shop (Located in the Best Food & Dining category).

The second place that deserves some love is Woodcraft in Norfolk! Not only do they have the finest selection of exotic woods, German high performance tools, and an overall friendly attitude about providing quality customer service, it just so happens that my dad works there! Like I said, they're located in Norfolk and you can find the option to vote for them under the city of Norfolk inside the category Best Shopping (Woodcraft is located under the Best Specialty Shop category).

Seriously, even if you don't live in the area but you consider yourself to be a pretty awesome person please cast votes for stores that deserve recognition for being top gear in what they do!

You got consonance in my beer!


Brewery: Victory Brewing Co.
Location: Downingtown, PA
Name: Prima Pils
Style: Pilsner
ABV: 5.3%
If only it were about 20 degrees warmer! This offering from Victory can be enjoyed year round but it just seems to me that if you're sweating then this beer will be doing wonders. Prima Pils is a color that most people would call "beer colored." To be fair, this beer is literally liquid sunshine; a nice translucent gold. There is a nice amount of a white, foamy head that does a pretty decent job lacing the glass as you work your way through it. I found the bouquet to be pretty enjoyable. Actually, let me clear something up real quick... This beer is awfully different from the beers I usually consume. I would dare say diametrically opposed! It had been a long time since I had a beer that was this light and I approached it with caution. So what about the nose? Right. There were scents of the bread and biscuit variety that had a surprising lemon zest accent. On the deeper draws you can pick up the smell of hops which would explain the lemon scent. I mean, the lemon scent isn't like furniture polish or bathroom cleaner so don't be put off. It's more of an earthy, "you won't mind consuming this" sort of smell. Ever been punched in the tongue by a beverage? Would you like to have your tongue punched by a beverage? I know, I know, rhetorical questions can be hard to deal with. Seriously, this pilsner is pretty awesome. You'll have the refreshing burst of carbonation right out of the gate that gives way to the biscuit we talked about earlier. The hops come through nicely with a wonderfully hidden malt flavor. Tangy yeast leaves you with a slightly bitter and mildly dry mouthfeel. Seriously, this beer is a great example of what a pilsner can (and should) taste like. Prima Pils would make an American "macro-brewery" beer fan's head explode!
Prima Donna? Nah... It can't sing.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

BrewDog Brouhaha... Brewhaha?

Brewery: BrewDog
Location: Fraserburg, Scotland
Names: 5 A.M. Saint and Hardcore IPA
Types: Iconoclastic Amber Ale and Explicit Imperial Ale, respectively
ABV: 5.0% and 9.2%
5 A.M. Saint where should I start? Should I start with the insulting yet almost accurate diatribe on the side of the bottle concerning how most people consume bad beer and know little about beer? Worry not, the chastising changes pace and lets the reader know that the folks at BrewDog won't stand for an inferior product. I feel like we should start with what the iconoclast looks like. Hazy amber that looks like its trying to tip the scales toward red. There's a bit of a puffy head that spends some time hanging around but doesn't do any sort of work when it comes to lacing the glass. There's a permanent hop scent present that is mostly citrusy in nature. There's also a fair amount of sweet malt in the bouquet. Once you're tasting this ale you realize that the hops in the nose are a bit of a put on. You do have a nice taste of hops up front but it fades quickly giving way to slightly earthy carbonation and finally returning on the back end. The earthy flavor lingers throughout the beer but isn't a distraction. To me, 5 A.M. Saint felt a little hollow. I wonder if my conditioning to higher ABV beers is skewing my perception of this beer? In any case, I would drink 5 A.M. Saint on warmer days probably while watching a baseball game... It's a far better drink than Icehouse. The nicest thing about it is that you can probably put several back and not have to worry about being blotto or feeling too full. However, if I had to choose between Saint and a different beer (say, Hardcore IPA) I would probably pass on it.
Save the preaching. Make a better amber.  
So the label says that according to the Surgeon General...err, umm...wrong side of the label. The label says this IPA has a lot of stuff in it. There are numbers about ingredients in a slightly braggartly (which is totally a word) manner to fully bring to light the attitude of BrewDog. These guys know beer and they know they know beer and they will do what they can to make you feel like you know less about beer than they do. Cheers mates! If Hardcore and 5 A.M. Saint got into a fight I feel like Hardcore would fight dirty. And then insult 5 A.M Saint. All in all, Hardcore is more bark than bite. Orange and amber blend nicely once this beer is in a proper drinking vessel. The small head that does show up is pretty shy and dissipates as quickly as it forms. I found the bouquet to be fairly interesting. You have the requisite hops of several variety but the more floral scented ones seem to shine through. I also picked up hints of something slightly sweeter, possibly vanilla. A healthy dose of earthy notes are also apparent when taking a whiff. Hardcore has a pleasant mouthfeel with a decent amount of carbonation, though not as much as Saint. I was expecting to have to deal with a blast of hops on my initial taste but was surprised to find out that I was not being overpowered by hops. Instead I experienced a flavor combination that consisted of some piney hops being overshadowed by floral hops. There is a moment of creamy clarity in the middle where that slightly vanilla-y flavor comes through. The whole thing is rounded out by a slightly bitter aftertaste so typical of an IPA. What I found to be the most interesting aspect of Hardcore is that there's virtually no trace of a higher alcohol content. No warming, no boozy finish, no nothing. Hardcore is a respectable IPA though I wouldn't call it an explicit ale. When compared to other imperial IPAs, Hardcore is nowhere near as sweet or thick as Dogfish Head's 90 Minute IPA nor is it as hoppy as Sierra Nevada's Hoptimum... But! It is incredibly drinkable and rather tasty. So if you can get past the "Hoppier than thou" preachings on the label I suggest you grab a Hardcore and enjoy thoroughly.
Ought to be called AttitudeDog Brewery.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

G. Love said it best..."I like cold beverages."

Hey folks! Just a heads up, new posts will be coming soon. I'm stockpiling the beers and the notes and will be soon releasing my thoughts into the interwebs. I'm thinking about doing a run of "Versus" posts. Two beers of identical style and pitting them against one another to see who is left standing. Though, if both beers are consumed in the process it would seem there is no clear winner for the contestants. Pity, really.

Orrr...with March Madness quickly approaching and my general disinterest in all things basketball, how about a bracket style showdown? Granted, consuming a field of 64 beers would be a daunting (yet admirable) task. I'd have to break it down to the Super Sixteen or the Exceptional Eight...adjectives chosen wisely so that I may not have to deal with the wrath of some NCAA lawyer.

Thoughts? I'm open to them.